His Excellency Sebastiano Cardi, Italy’s permanent representative to the United Nations

The Government headed by Gentiloni has overridden the vote of the Renzi government at the UN voting in favour of starting negotiations on nuclear disarmament! Sensational news that has spread like wildfire, carrying some supporters of dis-armament to rejoice in the result obtained. To provide some clarity on this matter, Senator Manlio Di Stefano (Movimento 5 Stelle) and others lauched an interrogation, in response to which the government has given a written response in the Bulletin of the Foreign [Affairs] Committee. This clarifies what happened.

On 27 October, during the Renzi government, Italy (getting in line to the United States) voted “No”, in the First Committee of the General Assembly, on the resolution proposed to launch in 2017 negotiations for an international treaty on prohibiting nuclear weapons, a resolution that that Committee approved by a substantial majority.

In contrast, at a later date on 23 December 2016, when the Gentiloni government was in power and the same resolution was voted on in the UN General Assembly, Italy joined the majority and voted “Yes”.

Does this signal a U turn in Italy’s position? No, it was simply a technical error. “Such an error” explains the government in its written response, seems to have been provoked by the circumstances in which the voting occurred: in the late hours of the night”. What the government is therefore saying is that the Italian representative pressed the wrong button, probably because he had suddenly dozed off. “The erroneous indication of a vote in favour [of the resolution], the government continues to explain – was subsequently rectified by our permanent representative to the United Nations, who has confirmed the “No” vote expressed in the First Committee”.

The Gentiloni government, like the Renzi government, considers that “calling a United Nations conference in 2017 to negotiate a legally binding instrument on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons, is a sharply divisive issue, that risks compromising our efforts in favour of nuclear disarmament”. Together with the Nato countries that are militarily non-nuclear, “Italy is traditionally in support of a progressive approach to disarmament, which reaffirms the central position of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

Thus the Governments confirms the centrality of the Non-Proliferation Treaty for Nuclear Weapons, ratified in 1972 on the basis of which Italy “undertakes not to receive nuclear weapons from any person nor to retain control over such weapons, either directly or indirectly”. However the facts speak otherwise, for Italy is violating the Treaty since it is maintaining on its territory (at Aviano and Ghedi-Torre), at least 70 US B-61 nuclear bombs, which Italian pilots have even been trained to use.

Whatever “may be” the “progressive approach for nuclear disarmament” that Italy is pursuing, it demonstrates the fact that within about two years, it will receive from the US, to replace the existing ones, the new nuclear bombs B61-12, that can be launched from a distance and which possess anti-bunker penetrating capacity. First strike nuclear weapons, notably against Russia, make it more likely that our country will launch a nuclear attack and that conversely, it will also be exposed even further to the danger of a nuclear reprisal.

The concrete way in which we can contribute to eliminating nuclear weapons that threaten the survival of humanity is to plead Italy to stop violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty and then put the follow-on request to the United States: please remove all your nuclear weapons from Italian territory and hereafter, kindly refrain from installing your new B61-12 bombs. A fundamental political battle even if the opposition has not been afflicted by a sudden onset of drowsiness, that penetrates right to the nerve controlling its survival instinct.

Anoosha Boralessa
Il Manifesto (Italy)